Wheels of Change

1396741_78421616I don’t know if you had this same sort of experience as a kid, but for me, my bicycle was so much more than simple conveyance. It was escape, freedom, autonomy, noisemaker with a playing card clothes-pinned to the frame to clack in the spokes, or the opposite, stealth sneaky quiet getabout. I recognize many parents in many communities don’t allow the same kind of free-range childhood I had–be home when the streetlights come on and don’t get in trouble–but even in the time of hyper-scheduled playdates and organized activities, even the simplicity of wind in the hair and personal control over direction, speed, and route that a bike affords is an amazing gift.

Think what a bike can mean for a poor rural villager in Africa…saving time and energy when going miles away to source clean water, carrying lovingly made or grown items to market to sell, connections forged more strongly between family and friends…it is such a simple game changer for day-to-day life. Wheels of Change International collects donated bicycles in the United States and ships them overseas to communities in Africa. When the shipping container arrives, the actual container becomes a bike shop, and locals are trained in bicycle mechanics plus business training. Voila–an industry is born. Donate a bike and change a life–100% of donations of cash, equipment, and materials goes directly to the recipient community in Africa, and more than 10,000 bikes have been donated (400 bikes just shipped to Namibia at the end of February). You can also pitch in as a volunteer, here, stateside, when shipping containers need to be loaded (new chapter startups for the organization mean that a W.O.C. group might already be near you, and needing your help–check the website for local chapters and volunteer opportunities).

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